Craving more Wolfenstein after finishing the second game (opens in new tab), I recently replayed The New Order's The Old Blood (opens in new tab) standalone expansion. If you've not tried it, the quality bar feels like it was set slightly lower than the main game, in the sense that most of its brief, unmemorable story segments are shown in first-person rather than through proper cutscenes—it works well enough, but I instinctively sensed that the production values were a bit lower.
Wolfenstein 2's The Freedom Chronicles: Episode 0, which was a pre-order bonus and comes with the season pass, has a different way around that: instead of cutscenes, you get short, adventure hour-style narrated sequences of moving illustrations.
The problem is, considering Wolfenstein 2 came out two weeks ago and is therefore fresh in the memory, they don't compare particularly well to the excellent cutscenes from the main game. Episode 0 is designed as a teaser for the three chapters that will ship as part of the season pass (£18/$25 on Steam)—a pilot episode that introduces the all-new cast of heroes. It's a sequence of three short missions that collectively last for well under an hour. They're okay as little bolt-ons to the main game, if treated like the enigma code missions, but it's so slight that it might as well have been given away to anyone who bought the main game.
Those three playable characters are former football player Joseph Stallion, formerly retired spy Agent Jessica Valiant and US army captain Gerald Wilkins. This prelude offers a short introductory scenario for each protagonist, who each embody one of BJ Blazkowicz's contraptions: Stallion can charge through doors and enemies, Valiant can sneak through tiny spaces, and Wilkins can become a large, awkward stilt man to reach higher places. I expect each episode to be built around that one ability, then, rather than all three like in the main game's later stages.
The resulting missions here are... fine. They're just one or two mid-sized combat encounters per character, with the option to sneak or go guns blazing at a greater challenge, much like in the main game. But the choice of settings is pretty uninspired. After many hours of nondescript corridors in Wolfenstein 2, I was hoping for a break. Even if the locations in this episode aren't recycled from the main game, they feel a lot like them: Jessica's section is like a mix of the campaign's Venus and courthouse levels, for example, while the other two are in pretty generic hangar and army base-feeling locations.
I'm all for more Wolfenstein set in a Nazi-occupied USA, but it'd be nice to actually see some of it. Then again, I don't want to get too ahead of myself—the individual episodes will undoubtedly be more elaborate than this. It's called Episode 0, after all. If this is meant to sell you on what's to come, though, I wouldn't drop money on the season pass until we've assessed all three chapters. For just under half the price of the main game, it's got to feel substantial, novel, and worthwhile.